Archive: March 2008

Top 10 Tips for Talking to Kids About Sex

We just got our kitten spayed, prompting many fruitful discussions with our kids, ages 11, 9 and 6, about sex drive and the consequences of unplanned pregnancies. Even our youngest can now give a brief, age-appropriate talk on the joys and perils of sex. The recent news that one-quarter of teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease, along with the Eliot Spitzenfruede and the first photos of Jamie Lynn Spears "showing," got me wondering, yet again, why it is so hard for parents to talk openly, and productively, to their children about sex. I found a teen health expert, Karen Lieberman Troccoli, who's also the mother of two kids ages 10 and 13, to help us out. Troccoli is a contributing author to the newly released book, Like Whatever: An Insider's Guide to Raising Teens and co-author of Like It Is: A Teen Sex Guide. She has worked in the...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 31, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Your Money or Your Life?

By Rebeldad Brian Reid Deloitte released a report last month on how tech companies could get and retain talent. It was fairly standard consulting company stuff, with the colorful graphs and specific figures that confirm what most of us already suspect about human resources: Everyone wants more smart people. Toward the end of the report, the authors start trying to give businesses some hints on how to attract those smart people, and the report makes the claim the work-life balance will be a driving force in keeping workers happy. Actually, the Deloitte report makes clear that it dislikes the term "work-life balance," noting that "work-life balance ... often amounts to working less." Instead, they place a great deal of emphasis on letting employees work hard on their own terms, which appears to mean schedules that are flexible when it comes down to where and when that work gets done. The...

By Brian Reid | March 27, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (24)

Privacy and Balance

A few weeks ago, my husband went out of town unexpectedly on Saturday night. I had scheduled a babysitter, so I went to the movies alone (Juno) for the first time in about 12 years. And I have to admit, I experienced a kind of bliss. I didn't have to discuss which movie to see, how early to get there or where to sit. No one wanted to sit in my lap. No one asked me to go potty in the middle of a critical scene. There is a balance between giving yourself over to your family, your work, your volunteer responsibilities ... and keeping something for yourself, even if it's just going to the movies solo once every dozen years. This issue comes up more and more in my family, as we confront "family bed chaos" (how many children and adults can you fit on one mattress and still...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 21, 2008; 8:30 AM ET | Comments (32)

Religion's Role

By Rebeldad Brian Reid The holiday season is upon us. Not the mass-consumption holiday season, but the time of year when members of many of the world's faiths celebrate their most holy days. As usual, I'll be sitting out the religious observances and wondering if I'm missing something. I was raised largely without religion and probably entered a church less than a dozen times -- counting weddings -- in my first 18 years of life. I missed the theology, but didn't feel like there was much else lacking. I grew up in a small, close community, and I have no complaints about the moral foundation that my parents gave me. I've never known anyone to live his life by the "golden rule" as absolutely as my father. But when my first child was born, we thought that it would be good to raise our children in some sort of religious...

By Brian Reid | March 20, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (71)

Is There a Balance Between Love and Marriage?

"Is it better to be alone, or to settle?" asks single mom/philosopher Lori Gottlieb in Marry Him in this month's Atlantic Monthly. To me, the question has never been so simple. I've been married twice, both times for an irresistible mix of passion, respect, love and hope for a future together -- but fear of being alone wasn't a factor. The failure of my first marriage was more complicated than the issues Lori Gottlieb explores, as is the success of my second union. But she sure does tackle some wonderfully provocative dilemmas, like the ones listed below (and guys, please feel free to flip the gender assumptions; she writes about women settling, but clearly equivalent questions can be asked of men): Every woman I know --no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure -- feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits 30 and finds herself...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 19, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (92)

Motherhood Take Two

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Writers need to use their full names. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Suzanne Goode I've come to learn through the past 20 years that there are many forms of motherhood. Take Jean, my friend for 17 years. We met as “trailing spouses” in Cairo during the Gulf War. My husband was an economist in the foreign service; Jean'’s was the Head Marine Guard. I had two pre-schoolers; Jean'’s husband had two young daughters from his first marriage who were living with his ex-wife on the West Coast of the United States. Jean was footloose and...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 18, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Top 10 Tips for Managing Household Chaos

A friend from business school works full-time at Johnson & Johnson, travels several days a month, and has a long commute. Her husband's schedule is similar. They have two daughters in elementary school. The last time we ran into each other we shared notes on our nutty, totally unbalanced lives. The most hilarious stories centered around our lack of ability to execute minor (or major) household repairs. My friend confided that two of their house's three bathrooms were kaput -- and had been for over a year. We howled over how unlike our neat business school forecasts our lives have become and how nearly impossible it is to get to chores and repairs, to stay home for the plumber or electrician, to get our cars serviced and other increasingly non-essential essentials. Which leads us to today's Top 10 Tips for Managing Household Chaos: 1. Groceries: Get 'em delivered or grocery...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 17, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Dumb and Dumber

On Tuesday, Moxie Mom made many of us spit out our coffee with the following suggestion: "In light of the recent Spitzer situation and as a complement to the piece last week, I'd like to see an article in the WaPo about how dumb men are -- doing stuff like this again and again." The article Moxie mentions is We Scream. We Swoon. How Dumb Can We Get? by Charlotte Allen, a 1,700 word rant on how stupid women are for their enthusiastic support of Obama, which drew howls when it appeared in the Washington Post's Sunday Outlook section. In light of Eliot Spitzer's mea culpa, Moxie's question is well worth discussing. So, today, let's tackle this: When it comes to blowing opportunities, are men or women dumber? History is littered with the names of men who sacrificed political or professional power, destroyed their families and their self-respect for seemingly...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 14, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Playing Games with Balance

By Rebeldad Brian Reid About a week ago, I stumbled on a simple yet extraordinary autobiographical video game called Gravitation. It's the brainchild of a guy named Jason Rohrer, and it chronicles -- if that's the right word -- his efforts to achieve balance. The gameplay, elegant as it is, almost defies expectation. Essentially, you have the choice to play ball with your child (modeled in the game after Jason's son Mez) or do "work" by collecting stars. But each decision about work or family affects the way the game progresses. Start to finish, the experience takes only 8 minutes, and it's probably best to experience the freeware game (if you can get away with it today) before reading about it. I caught up with Jason to talk through how the game came into being and how it reflects his day-to-day reality: Most people tend to think of work and...

By Brian Reid | March 13, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (12)

$100 Million Women

Two years ago, The Economist (subscription required) argued that investing in girls' education made good economic sense, since "women are now the most powerful engine of global growth." Later that same year, the success of microlending to businesswomen gained international respect when Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for a program that lent small sums to Bangladeshi women. Now, the world's largest business bank and 16 business schools have come together to design programs and distribute $100 million to educate women around the globe, as reported in the AP's Goldman to Spend $100M Educating Women. Called 10,000 Women, the project --Goldman's biggest charitable donation--is backed by American schools such as the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Harvard Business School and other schools that will work with local universities overseas to run the program.The initiative specifically plans to target women in the...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 12, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (22)

A Divided Village

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Writers need to use their full names. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Diana Beckmann My sister and I are two years apart. I'm the oldest. We have always been very different, and not able to appreciate each other. So ours was a tense childhood. But then we both got married within a year and had daughters 13 months apart. Suddenly, we had so much in common, or so I thought. I knew that my sister and I were raising our kids differently. But she lives hundreds of miles away, and the differences weren't so obvious...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 11, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (75)

Top Ten Tips for Going Back to Work

When I started writing Mommy Wars five years ago, I was desperate to connect with other moms battling the "inner mommy war" -- that incessant voice in my head questioning whether my choices about work and family were right for my kids, my husband, the universe ... and oh, yes, me. I got what I needed -- wisdom, self-deprecating humor, camaraderie and advice from other moms. Between the lines of the 26 essays in Mommy Wars, I also found outstanding, practical advice on how and when to leave the work force to stay home -- and how and when to go back. I collected all the collective wisdom from the Mommy Wars contributors, moms I met on book tour, headhunters, human resources managers, and hundreds of comments from posters on this blog. Here it is, boiled down to my Top Ten Tips For Going Back to Work listed below --...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 10, 2008; 7:15 AM ET | Comments (0)

The One-on-One Trick

Eleven years ago, when my first child was a few months old, I met a mom in Gymboree class. She had three kids. She asked me out for coffee afterwards, and we sat in Starbucks with our babies for 45 minutes, new mom alongside wise mom. I never saw her again, but she gave me advice I never forgot. "How many kids do you want?" she asked. I didn't know. I solemnly told her my husband wanted five. (This still makes me crack up. Five? We'd be dead.) "No more than three," she said, definitively. "Because think about it -- you need some one-on-one time with each kid in order to be a really good parent, right?" Knocked upside down and blissed out by early motherhood, I'd never thought about parenthood in such concrete, futuristic terms. "Each week, my husband and I each spend about an hour one-on-one with each...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 7, 2008; 7:25 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Sickening State of Paid Sick Leave

By Rebeldad Brian Reid I know it's March, and the crocuses are beginning to pop through the ground, but it seems like we're nowhere near the end of the cold-and-flu season. I continue to live with the fear that I'll wake up feverish or that my kids will wake up vomiting. But I don't have any worry that a few days of the flu will wreck the family budget. My employer offers me five paid sick days a year, putting me in the lucky 52 percent of the private-sector workforce that has an option to take a day or two to recuperate (or help a little one recuperate) without putting myself in any kind of fiscal jeopardy. The flip side of this, of course, is that 48 percent of private-sector workers aren't as lucky. And low-wage workers are even less likely to be able to afford a day of recovery....

By Brian Reid | March 6, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Maternal Profiling

A January Atlanta Journal Constitution commentary between two female columnists debated the realities of Maternal Profiling -- employment discrimination against a woman who has, or will have, children. Common examples include pregnant women being fired for trumped-up reasons; interview questions designed to weed out mothers and other caregivers; performance reviews designed to eliminate those employees, whether or not work has actually been affected. The broader legal definition, used by Joan Williams and Work-Life Law Center at Hastings College of Law in California, is the term Family Responsibilities Discrimination. Andrea Cornell Sarvady argues that, no matter what you call it, the practice is "definitely alive and well." She described two cases of women penalized at work for being moms: Auto service technician Mailyn Pickler was fired a week after she told her dealership that she was pregnant; the boss informed her that it wouldn't be prudent to drive the shuttle bus...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 5, 2008; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

First-Year Lawyer -- And Mother

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Writers need to use their full names. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life. By Kathryn Beaumont I am a third-year law student. Graduation is on my horizon, as is a coveted spot at the biggest law firm in town. After nine years as a journalist, I went to law school seeking an intellectual challenge. Frankly -- as a single 30-something -- I also wanted financial security. I found both, as well as a husband, and then a daughter, who was born last July, halfway through my stint as a summer associate. Law school, it turns out, is...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 4, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (93)

10 Tips To Stop Fighting in the Car

Despite juggling work and family for more than a decade, I am powerless to solve a problem that is ruining my personal and professional life: I can't get my three kids, ages 10, 9 and 5, to stop fighting in the car. Every morning I send three happy, well-fed, rested kids out to the car to head to school. The bickering speeds up the closer we get to the garage. "I'm sitting in back!" "No I am" "I don't want to go around to that side" and so on. Once inside the car, the fighting gets worse. "He touched me!" "Stop singing" "She's making that scratching noise!" By the time I drop them at school and get to work, I'm a wreck. At the end of the day, the routine starts all over again, as if the kids have been plotting all day long about how to drive each other...

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 3, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

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